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Thread: Work Ethic and/Perseverance in the Hunting Retriever

  1. #41
    Senior Member Jerry Beil's Avatar
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    I think we need to get a better handle on definitions of Perseverance, Work Ethic, Desire etc.

    I don't think it's a balance of one or the other. Perseverance is not the opposite side of the same coin as what people are describing as work ethic. Desire, isn't the same as perseverance and it's not the opposite of work ethic either.

    Personally I think work ethic is not a trait, but more a bundle of traits, or how a bundle of traits dogifest themselves. So some of the traits that go into both of these are likely nearly completely genetic, and some have a greater environmental aspect. However, I don't think there's any kind of consensus on what work ethic is in a dog, or even if it's possible for a dog to have it. Work ethic is belief in work as a moral good. Pretty sure dogs don't have that. Instead they act in ways that seem similar to how a person with a good work ethic would act. The motive for a dog isn't because it's a moral good at least I don't think it is.

    All high drive dogs are not on the edge. All dogs that have perseverance are probably high drive dogs. Perseverance is the good part of that high drive. A dog can't have too much of it. Same thing as what most of the folks on the thread have described as work ethic. You can't have too much of it. It's not a soft dog, it's not a dog that isn't capable of independent work, it's the good part of what makes up a dog that wants to work with you. Someone earlier described it as a dog that doesn't get down while doing T work or some of the other boring to the dog drills etc. It's a dog that seems to try extra hard to do what you're trying to get it to do, and doesn't lose confidence if that takes some time for it to figure out. So dog maxed on perseverance and work ethic would allow you to harness that perseverance. I don't want less perseverance, I want more work ethic, whatever that is.
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  2. #42
    Senior Member PalouseDogs's Avatar
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    Pet peeve of mine: I don't like to see "prey drive" used as the explanation for any type of perserverance or work ethic in a dog.

    To me, prey drive is the very specific impulse, virtually universal in carnivores, to chase a moving, prey-like object. Prey drive is why lure coursing (chasing a white plastic bag) works. It's why greyhounds will chase a wooden rabbit they never catch. It's why a weasel in a chicken coup will kill every chicken or a well-fed cat will still chase birds. Few carnivores can resist the urge to chase a moving prey object. Hounds have tons of prey drive and are among the most difficult groups of dogs to train because their work ethic is just about zilch. Prey drive for many carnivores ends when the prey stops moving. One of my old-lady rescue dogs is a husky/shepherd cross. Like all the dogs, she will chase a running rabbit. If she is the dog that gets the rabbit, she gives it a chomp, drops it, ascertains that it is no longer moving, and completely loses interest. She chases rabbits because of prey drive, not because she has any interest in eating rabbits or carrying them around.

    Most retrievers have the usual doggie prey drive. They will chase a moving object, especially a small moving object, although they are not nearly so driven to chase as an Afghan Hound or other sight hound. I do not believe retrievers retrieve because of "prey drive". Retrieving drive is more similar, I think, to the compulsion of a parent wolf to carry food home to his or her pups. "Highly goal oriented" is how I'd describe a retriever that won't give up a hunt for a bird. They aren't leaving until they bring home the bacon.

    Work ethic is a really nebulous thing, I think composed of many elements. Partly, it's energy, but not unfocused energy. It's wanting to be doing something, but that something has to have a goal. The dog that is always on the go, always getting into trouble because of its restlessness, may or may not have work ethic. The border collie that will carry a tennis ball to the top of a slope, drop it, and chase it down is displaying a lot of energy, but also a work ethic, He needs an outlet for his energy, but needs to feel the satisfaction of something solved, or something caught, in the end.

    I think Golden Retrievers and Border Collies so completely dominate competitive obedience partly because of their "work ethic." I think they get a feeling of satisfaction from having done a task. (Having an intense desire to please and the intelligence to figure out the tasks are certainly valuable, too.)
    Kelly Cassidy (person)

    HR Maple Cassidy CDX JH RE (golden retriever)
    Alder Cassidy CDX RE (standard poodle chipmunk chaser)
    plus whacked-out weird Burka (elderly mix-breed rescue girl)

  3. #43
    Senior Member truthseeker's Avatar
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    The American language can be a bit%h, I to think drive means different thing, it matter who you are talking to. I like to use desire instead.

    We all have our ways to evale our dogs and come with a equation witch will equal success and I know that others approach it in a deferent way. I wanted to share how I approach thing that makes it easer to train my dogs.

  4. #44
    Senior Member 7pntail's Avatar
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    I have two labs. One a fire breather, and the other a methodical, laid back dude. Would not classify him as high drive. Granted, Bramble is much older, but his personality has always been very mellow. He has retrieved hundreds of ducks in the thickest stuff known to man. Great marker, bird comes back period most all of the time. But, at his best, he had a hard time hunting multiple days, and a half day of pheasant hunting was the norm.

    Briar, now three has more energy and stamina than any lab I have seen. An absolute balls out, non stop, bundle of retrieving, hunting locomotion. He is like the Ever Ready Bunny. Lean dog, completely different build than Bramble.

    Incredible for pheasants, but not so sure about ducks (still Young). He misses some marks and longs to run and run! Yes, he will find the bird after considerable swamp coverage on long retrieves. I realize some of that is my fault in training.


    His high drive and energy is nice, but not sure if doesn't hinder some other attributes.

    I see Him as having perseverance, but not work ethic.
    John Stroh, Lodi ca


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  5. #45
    Senior Member truthseeker's Avatar
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    Here is a couple examples of what I mean.

    I have two young, good dogs both trial prospects. Their sent out on a retrieve and miss mark.
    Dog (A) is a balls to the wall high maintenance
    Dog (B) is level headed and honest.

    Dog (A) I would react right away with a hay,hay and a bumper into the fall area. because if I don't they will be in the next county and then lost.
    Dog (B) I would let put on a hunt before I refocus them because if I handle them to much they may start to pop.


    Example (2) I send both dog on a blind. I stop them and give a left back and they go right.
    Dog (A) I would stop them and give them a correction with the collar, move up few paces and redirect.
    Dog (B) I would stop, pick them up and shake them. Move back to my original spot and then redirect.

    Both dogs got corrected, but in different ways. Dog (A) with the collar, Dog (B) more traditional.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Howard N's Avatar
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    Example (2) I send both dog on a blind. I stop them and give a left back and they go right.
    Dog (A) I would stop them and give them a correction with the collar, move up few paces and redirect.
    Dog (B) I would stop, pick them up and shake them. Move back to my original spot and then redirect.
    A lotta dogs are going to react a lot more strongly to a correction like dog B got than to what dog A got.

    Also, there is a timing issue. Dog A gets the correction immediately after the miscast. With dog B there's a delay while you walk out to him, pick him up and shake him. I'd think awful hard before I made a mistimed correction like this.
    Howard Niemi

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  7. #47
    Senior Member truthseeker's Avatar
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    I knew that I should of put a because behind dog (B) correction. Knowing that this type of dog is more of a pleaser and focused on me. the correction that I gave meant more and the out come would last.

  8. #48
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    [QUOTEPet peeve of mine: I don't like to see "prey drive" used as the explanation for any type of perserverance or work ethic in a dog.

    To me, prey drive is the very specific impulse, virtually universal in carnivores, to chase a moving, prey-like object. Prey drive is why lure coursing (chasing a white plastic bag) works. It's why greyhounds will chase a wooden rabbit they never catch. It's why a weasel in a chicken coup will kill every chicken or a well-fed cat will still chase birds. Few carnivores can resist the urge to chase a moving prey object. Hounds have tons of prey drive and are among the most difficult groups of dogs to train because their work ethic is just about zilch. Prey drive for many carnivores ends when the prey stops moving. One of my old-lady rescue dogs is a husky/shepherd cross. Like all the dogs, she will chase a running rabbit. If she is the dog that gets the rabbit, she gives it a chomp, drops it, ascertains that it is no longer moving, and completely loses interest. She chases rabbits because of prey drive, not because she has any interest in eating rabbits or carrying them around.

    Most retrievers have the usual doggie prey drive. They will chase a moving object, especially a small moving object, although they are not nearly so driven to chase as an Afghan Hound or other sight hound. I do not believe retrievers retrieve because of "prey drive". Retrieving drive is more similar, I think, to the compulsion of a parent wolf to carry food home to his or her pups. "Highly goal oriented" is how I'd describe a retriever that won't give up a hunt for a bird. They aren't leaving until they bring home the bacon.
    ][/QUOTE]

    Prey drive is way more than that and encompasses a much larger picture than you have painted.

    Most working dogs have a high level of prey drive. These prey drives are more pronounced in certain breed. Prey drive is derived from food acquisition. A drive can be defined as the element which causes an animal to thrive. chasing, shaking, pointing ,giving eye, stalking, herding, hunting in whatever manner, and whatever else are all lumped into food acquisition or the desire to find prey and capture it.. The different working breeds have had the different elements of prey drive selected for the trait that best suits the breeders needs. One can identify the ancestor of our domesticated friends manifesting all these different actions while in search for and finding and capturing their prey . Most doggy behaviorists identify 5 drives in the dog. Prey , pack,,, defensive,,,and my 2 favorites,,,food and sex. Some lump food and prey together.
    Others break them down even further. Fight,,play and so on. It takes all 5 of those for a wolf to thrive
    Pete
    Last edited by Pete; 02-07-2013 at 07:32 AM.
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  9. #49
    Senior Member PalouseDogs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post

    Most working dogs have a high level of prey drive. These prey drives are more pronounced in certain breed. Prey drive is derived from food acquisition. A drive can be defined as the element which causes an animal to thrive. chasing, shaking, pointing ,giving eye, stalking, herding, hunting in whatever manner, and whatever else are all lumped into food acquisition or the desire to find prey and capture it.. The different working breeds have had the different elements of prey drive selected for the trait that best suits the breeders needs. One can identify the ancestor of our domesticated friends manifesting all these different actions while in search for and finding and capturing their prey . Most doggy behaviorists identify 5 drives in the dog. Prey , pack,,, defensive,,,and my 2 favorites,,,food and sex. Some lump food and prey together.
    Others break them down even further. Fight,,play and so on. It takes all 5 of those for a wolf to thrive
    Pete
    Under that definition, a deer that walks ten miles to salt lick is in prey drive. Or a flock of waxwings moving from tree to tree "hunting" for a tree with fruit are in prey drive. All animals "hunt" for food, but they are not compelled to chase a moving object. And there is nothing about stalking or chasing that, by itself, leads to the desire to carry items. Marking a thrown object certainly is part of prey drive in a retriever, but the intense desire to carry it is not prey drive. Mice and squirrels diligently gather and carry stuff to stow it away, too. I wouldn't call it prey drive.
    Kelly Cassidy (person)

    HR Maple Cassidy CDX JH RE (golden retriever)
    Alder Cassidy CDX RE (standard poodle chipmunk chaser)
    plus whacked-out weird Burka (elderly mix-breed rescue girl)

  10. #50
    Senior Member John Robinson's Avatar
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    Good discussion! Jerry, Kelly and Pete seem to be agreeing more than dissagreeing. To me, what term you use is less important than being able to read a dog correctly and use the appropriate correction and training approach as Truthseeker and Howard pointed out. Without getting deep into scientific terms, whick I frankly am behind you guys on, and having been around a lot of retrievers over the years, I have come up with my own definitions. If this is just some guy with his one year old street bred lab who wants to join our group for a while and see if we can't make a workable hunting retriever out of the dog, my standards for certain qualities is lowered as compared to what I would personally want in an all age FT prospect. That said I use the following simple terms which work for me:

    1) Retrieving desire; Some dogs are crazy to retrieve anything thrown, sticks, tennis balls, bumpers, tin cans, anything. Some of these dogs don't seem very interested in birds. Frankly l I don't care or need to understand what motivates them to want to retrieve like that, I just recognize it and know I have a leg up with this dog as compared to a dog with zero or very low desire to retrieve.

    2) Extreme Birdyness; Some dogs are sort of lacksadasical about the retrieve, they might trot out to a thrown object, and might even pick it up and return, but it clearly doesn't turn their crank, however put a bird in the equation and they go bonkers. It probably doesn't matter if it was a bird or other animal, but since we focus on birds I say a dog like that is "birdy".

    I believe that if a retriever possess either one or two above, that dog can succeed in our sport. If the dog possesses both types of drive it will be easier to pull out that potential. Dogs that lack either type of drive may be forced to do some of the work we require, but such a dog will be completely man made and will never have his heart in his work. That dog will resent training and I really see no reason to force a dog to do something he doesn't want to do. Let such an animal be a loved pet.

    My last comment is regarding the work habit term, how about we use the term "good training attitude" instead. To me a dog with a good training attitude always jumps out of the truck happy and anxious to work. He doesnt resent corrections or get mopey when he is made to redo a concept over and over again. he runs out just as hard and fast on blinds as marks, returns fast and swings around on line swiftly, ready and anxious to go again. I call that a good training attitude and it is much easier and enjoyable to train such a dog over the sensitive, "not liking this " dog. My first dog was extremely birdy and very-very smart, but he didn't have a lot of natural desire to retrieve. As a hunting dog he was unbelievably good, and that transfered into hunt test for awhile, but at some point in the more complex training for Master, Kimo figured out this was contrived hunting and he developed a bad attitude. I basically forced him that last year just to get his MH title, but it was against his will, so we retired from hunt test after that. He was a killer hunter until just before he died at age twelve though.

    John
    Last edited by John Robinson; 02-07-2013 at 09:56 AM.

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